There it was, printed on an official document she got in the mail -- "Courtney Acquaviva: Unmarried." "That was like a punch in the stomach," she says. "Me, single? No! Never! In my heart I'll always be married to him."
Sometimes her heart can fool her this way, sometimes it cannot. For the months after Sept. 11, when her husband, Paul, perished in the north tower of the World Trade Center, Acquaviva, 31, kept her emotions in check. She had to be strong for their daughter Sarah, 3, and the son, Paul, she would give birth to on Dec. 20. But then, in the delivery room, she felt her husband's absence, and during the holidays that followed she cried for three straight days. Now her grief, instead of lessening, is often "just not tolerable," she says. When Sarah asks about her father, she tells her, "Daddy couldn't come home. A lot of daddies couldn't come home. But they love us still."
She met Paul at a New Jersey high school party in 1988, and they married eight years later. On Sept. 11 Paul was in his 103rd-floor Cantor Fitzgerald office when the first plane hit a few floors below. "We're not going to make it," he told his wife in a cell-phone call. "Do you know where all the paperwork is?" And then, before the line went dead: "Court, I love you."
At home in Glen Rock, N.J., seeing her son and daughter smile like their father used to, homemaker Acquaviva feels less alone. "That is how Paul sends me love, when the children smile," she says. "He's still here, I've still got him. And no terrorist can take that away from me." < PREVIOUS: Jane Terrenzi
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